Journal of Cell Biology vol:162 issue:6 pages:1017-29
Here, we report on the identification of nucleolar spindle-associated protein (NuSAP), a novel 55-kD vertebrate protein with selective expression in proliferating cells. Its mRNA and protein levels peak at the transition of G2 to mitosis and abruptly decline after cell division. Microscopic analysis of both fixed and live mammalian cells showed that NuSAP is primarily nucleolar in interphase, and localizes prominently to central spindle microtubules during mitosis. Direct interaction of NuSAP with microtubules was demonstrated in vitro. Overexpression of NuSAP caused profound bundling of cytoplasmic microtubules in interphase cells, and this relied on a COOH-terminal microtubule-binding domain. In contrast, depletion of NuSAP by RNA interference resulted in aberrant mitotic spindles, defective chromosome segregation, and cytokinesis. In addition, many NuSAP-depleted interphase cells had deformed nuclei. Both overexpression and knockdown of NuSAP impaired cell proliferation. These results suggest a crucial role for NuSAP in spindle microtubule organization.